The Water Community

As of 1st January 2017, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (formerly UNESCO-IHE) operates as a Foundation under Dutch law, working under the auspices of UNESCO. IHE Delft cooperates with a wide range of partners in the water sector, both in the Netherlands and overseas. 

UNESCO, UN & water

IHE Delft and the UNESCO Water Family have a long relationship that has generated great results in the past years. In the future, as before, IHE Delft is an important contributor to UNESCO’s water agenda that it is focussed primarily on promoting integrated water resources management, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

IHE Delft’s strategic plan recognizes that addressing global challenges such as poverty, climate change and public health requires a strong foundation of knowledge to improve water management practices. It is the expertise in these areas that makes IHE Delft such an important contributor to UNESCO’s water agenda.

UNESCO’s work in the water sector is built on the following pillars:

  1. At its heart is the long-standing International Hydrological Programme (IHP), now carried out in collaboration with academic and professional institutions, the IHP National Committees, and the governments of UNESCO’s member states. The National Committees form the backbone of IHP and are fundamental to ensuring the widest possible participation of Member States in the international programme. These Committees are constituted and run under the authority of national governments and play a critical role in the implementation of the IHP’s mission. There are at present 168 IHP National Committees and focal points among UNESCO’s 195 Member States.
  2. UNESCO Water-related Chairs are joint undertakings between UNESCO and interested parties. They can be established as teaching or research facilities at a university or other higher education or research institute. At present they comprise 700 institutions in 116 countries promoting inter-university cooperation with the aim of enhancing institutional capacities.
  3. The World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) is a joint initiative of 31 bodies of the United Nations system. The UN WWAP, hosted and led by UNESCO is responsible for issuing the World Water Development Report, an annual review of the state, use and management of the world’s freshwater resources. Its latest edition (2018) is called ‘Nature-based solutions for water’ and will be launched in the World Water Forum in Brasilia in March 2018.

Water-related centres under the auspices of UNESCO
The water-related centres under the auspices of UNESCO (category 2) work on relevant thematic and geographic priorities in their areas of expertise. Since Member States have realized the potential of these centres, the network has been rapidly expanding.


IHE Delft has signed a number of long-term international cooperation agreements with various partners, comprising a wide range of fields and technical cooperation in human and institutional capacity building. Find out more on the partner page and sub websites list.

Support to regional networks

The Institute maintains close working relationships with many regional and local networks that it has helped set up. These networks were born as platforms to transfer scientific and technical expertise, to strengthen the capacity of water professionals and institutions, and to share regional knowledge and solutions.

After years of collaboration, these regional networks have developed into professional communities that encourage joint research, knowledge sharing and the development of sustainable water solutions.

Examples of these networks include WaterNet (Southern Africa), the Nile Basin Capacity Building Network (NBCBN), the Collaborative Knowledge Network Indonesia (CKNet-INA), the Arab Integrated Water Resources Management Network (AWARENET, Arab region) and the Latin American Water Education and Training Network (LAWETNET, Latin America).

Cooperation with the Dutch water sector

The Institute has a long tradition of collaboration with water sector institutions in the Netherlands. It is a partner of Valorisation Programme Delta technology and water, which brings together the leading research institutions in the area, including DeltaresDelft University of Technology and TNO.

The Institute is a member of the Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE), a joint venture of the environmental research institutes of nine Dutch universities. In addition, the Institute participates in several relevant Dutch and European research networks, including the Boussinesq Center for Hydrology, the Netherlands Centre for River Studies (NCR), and the Netherlands Centre for Coastal Research (NCK). The Institute works closely with national knowledge centres such as TNO and the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.

Also the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NMP), and the Association of Water Boards (UVW) are in IHE Delft's network.

The Institute works in collaboration with several (former in-house) partners:

  • The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP), to foster multi-stakeholder cooperation in support of development;
  • The International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), to improve access to and the use of knowledge in the water and sanitation sector, and building the knowledge-sharing capacity of resource centres; and
  • Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC)

All of these networks play a crucial role in development and implementation of national and international research agendas.

Delft & water

Delft is a world renowned knowledge centre on water infrastructure, technology and sciences, and attracts high-level students and scientists from around the globe. IHE Delft cooperates with Delft, the water knowledge city, and water related institutes based in Delft.


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